The Blackhawk Beast & the One Who Wails

The Blackhawk Beast & the One Who Wails

The Blackhawk Beast & the One Who Wails 1080 1080 Exodus Oktavia Brownlow

I

At night, when they are only arguing humans, I hear them fight about the things that grown-ups always fight about—money, sex, giving, and getting.

I hide where they cannot see me. I pretend to sleep when it benefits me, picking out the best pieces from their shattered whispers and screams.

At school, stories from broken homes are in vogue, so I share bits and bites from their occasions like a social site, because if I am going to profit from any of this it might as well be immortality.

We say our stories word-for-word, just as we hear our parents say them.  

“My dad’s fucking his secretary.”

“My mom said that my dad’s dick doesn’t work anymore,” I proudly pronounce.

“My dad got the cops called on him,” Jim says.

Jim wins.

I think about winning one day, about revealing the creatures from where I live, but even they can’t compare to handcuffs, and jail cells, and possible death sentences.

At night, always at night, my father and mother become two different beings, two monsters that find themselves up and out of their human beds, and inside the forest, tearing at each other’s flesh.

The Blackhawk Beast and The One that Wails.

The Blackhawk Beast, is everything that terrible things are made of—yellow-stained teeth, and eyes so white that they almost look like stars, and of course, claws.

The One that Wails, is nothing but nothingness formulated around a stretched, soulless mouth.

In my picture-perfect family, I am just the girl.  

It’s always the worst fighting that brings out their demons. In the morning when they come in before sunrise, my mother calmly sips tea, and my father wipes mud from between his toes. And me, the human daughter, eats whatever breakfast that they have prepared for me.

As they drive me to school, I begin to sleep, not faking this time because of how late I stayed up waiting for the verdict. Just as my eyes begin to close, I see my mother’s hand, bruised and blue, lay itself on my father’s equally bruised and blue neck. She gets one of his curls as she drives, and she pushes it back to let it rest against the side of his ear. She’s pleased to see it stay there, behaving and molding.

My father stares out the window to this, holding his mouth tightly against his palm, and blinking silently.

With eyes heavy, and my breath light, I rest. Today at school I will finally win.  

___

At night, always, always at night, and when I am too tired to spy, I lay in bed, listening to something much further off. It always comes just when the sky begins to darken its canvas with inks, and oranges, and creams, and baby blues, a whoo’ing sound that is much too strong to be the wind, or a Wailer.

Sometimes I sneak off to look for its tracks, to discover the new monster that has come to live with us, but all I hear is sound, all I see are the tracks left from the monsters that I’ve known all along.

The Train

II

Without fur, and in flesh that doesn’t fathom itself away, the cold is relentless.

But I stand behind him, watching his back as he waits.

He doesn’t turn around to look at me, most fathers leaving their families only look forward.

When he boards it, the ghost of a train, blue lightning in the black, his form takes it on like he’s part of it or something. Instantly, it flies through the forest, leaving only a burning flash in my eyes.  

Behind, a tube of something is left on the ground. It sparkles like crystal, and on the inside, it holds the precise color of my father’s skin when he is human.  

In the distance, there is no distinct difference between his wails, and the wheels that run against the rails.  

The Hunt

III

*9 years later*

At day, I am usually out the door before the sun rises.

I have grown to learn the woods, and in a little patch of clearing, I can always see the light of my school bus coming.

I have a car that I refuse to drive, claiming the danger of the smoke, its lethalness to God’s creatures. I hear mumbles, mostly, to this, before I am allowed to be released and taken briefly away.

At school, videos of broken homes are in vogue.

I pass by a table of people where one person presents snippets of their dementia-riddled grandma soiling herself in public.

Another, where a senior showcases their out-of-town uncle as he cries over the loss of his wife and daughter, his face is burnt and folded over itself in the same way syrup does when it cools off.

And one girl shows a loop of her little sister dangling from a rope. Her toes tickle against the floor, swinging slightly.

“Like, how was I supposed to know she’d actually hang herself, ya ‘know? Like, I’m not a monster, ya ‘know, but like, why let it go to waste, ya ‘know?”

Quickly, a boy with black hair and sun-fire eyes winks at me as I pass by him. An Up-and-Comer. His eyes slowly seek me out, studying, claiming, deciding.  

Much further off, near the top of the pyramid of the cafeteria, is a table where those of us who won the game years ago sit. My crew.

Jim sits next to me, and as always asks me about what to do.  

His mother had been killed long ago by his father, a beautiful bloody scene that provided pictures, and national news coverage.

And my father, with his bruises and everything else, had left long ago as well.

Both stories had been enough to keep us steadily at the table. This was during a simpler time, when the game could be won with just words, but like all human things, nothing lasts.

Jim asks, again, “What are we gonna do?”

And I reply, “I don’t know.”

I swear I can feel myself disappearing by the second. Dying as I live, ghosting away into something unperceivable, and leaving behind all of the things that have mattered to me the most.

___

At day, I take my first lover into my room and I let him lay me across the bed, my Up-and-Comer.

It is Sunday, a day where the light touches just below our chests and further down, acting as a guide.

He kisses me so softly that I can barely feel them, but by the time both of our clothes are off, there is more intent. More pressure. More pain. Things are just beginning to feel right.  

When he lays me down, his mouth presses against the inside of my thighs, he sucks the skin there—mimicking something that he has probably watched 1,000 times before—kissing, and biting, all with his eyes closed.

Both of us, at once, let out the same kind of sound. Only there is shock and disgust on his end, and a lot of spitting.

“What is that?” On his lips, there’s brown where there used to be pink.

“I’m sorry. It’s concealer. It was my dad’s.”

He blinks at this, leaning forward, wiping away more of the concealed content from my thighs, my knees, and my chest.  

“Who beats you?”

“My mom.”

“Your mom?” His sun-fire eyes gleam at this. “A woman?”

“Yes.”

“Wow. Does she…” he asks, studying the lining of my thighs as he does.  

“No.”

“Hmm…too bad.” He quickly recovers. “I got an idea…if you’re into it.”

And I should be mad, I should be livid, but this is why I chose the Up-and-Comer, he’s resourceful if nothing else.

I want this boy. Want his ambition, and all of his steadily growing claims to immortality.

So, I tell him yes, but be sure to tag me, and Jim, too. I am equally resourceful.

The Up-and-Comer lays me back down, and he poses my naked body like a display doll, letting the light splash against my spilled blackberry bruises.

He takes my picture, and he records my reactions. His capturing quite the aesthetic.

When he asks for tears, I give them to him.

When he tells me to scream, I give those to him too.

“Yes,” he praises me. “Perfect. Lovely. So, natural.”

I’d only done this the night before, when the bruises had been freshly made, so this is all entirely too easy.

She comes in right at the height of my last scream, eyes white as stars.

When my father left, the Blackhawk Beast shifted away, crawling inside my mother like a hibernating cub, and leaving behind only her humanness.

That same humanness, however, had no issue with all the things done to my body. The sound of her hands against my brown and my bones comes to me instantly. Clean and cut as if trying to reveal something from underneath. Something that behaves and molds.  

The Blackhawk Beast closes in on my first and last lover, lifting him by his throat, and snapping him at his neck.

It bleeds him from his back to his buttocks, and I scream and I hit it, and I call it the foulest things that I can think of.

I do this until it leaves me alone, until everything around me becomes black.

___

Becoming

IV

At night, I hear it.

It is new.

Nearly foreign.

More intense, and completely unmistakable.

That wail of the rails.

My ears twitch in the direction of the sound. My body instinctively leaps away from my room, out the back door, and I feel something dig into the soft ground.

Claws.

Eyes that are twin to my own stare back at me, and my mother, with her hand out, beckons for me to come. I wail in response. Me, her half Wailing One/half Blackhawk Beast of a daughter, and I follow.

Header photograph © Kelly DuMar.

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